A recommendation was presented to District of Clearwater council during the Aug. 18 regular district meeting that the Dutch Lake boat launch be “designated as an area for watercraft launch only,” including the relocating of the wharf to the beach area, as well as changing the signage to restrict the “area to service animals only and prohibiting swimming and diving.”
Leslie Groulx, DOC Chief Administrative Officer, explained to council that the District has been receiving as many as two calls per day from Clearwater residents concered about a variety of issues at the boat launch. Complaints include swimming, driveways blocked by vehicles, garbage and litter, dogs running free, dog and human waste, noise and smoking and drinking.
For safety and insurance purposes, it was recommended that the area be designated as a swimming area or a boat launch.
No council members moved to approve the recommendation, but Councillor Bill Haring offered an alternative option — do some public outreach and messaging to address the behavioural issues and revisit the concern about re-designating the boat launch at the next parks and recreation committee of the whole meeting (Sept. 1).
Councillor Shelley Sim agreed that there are a lot of clashes happening at the boat launch among the various users of the boat launch. People are down there swimming, while others are launching their kayaks or paddle boards, and some are playing with their dogs.
She also asked if it was worth considering exapanding into other areas, such as the Brampton Park area.
“We need another access point,” said Coun. Sim. “That dog issue keeps coming back to haunt us.”
It was also mentioned that a lot of the bad behaviours being discussed are not Clearwater residents, but tends to be visitors to the area.
Many of the councillors agreed that the problems exist and that something has to be done to ensure the safety of all while also making most people happy. But the recommendation put forward, as it was, felt like a quick punishment.
“I’ve seen all apsects of this,” said Mayor Merlin Blackwell, adding that a long-term solution may include additional access points for swimmers or dog owners, but a short-term solution needed to be addressed. “It’s a problem. We need to deal with this in some form or another…I don’t think at this point we can ignore this.”
In response, Coun. Haring reiterated his suggestion, stating that public messaging with a caveat that the boat launch could shut down, might help residents to encourage good behaviour in others.
“With public messaging in town, is we create a bunch of locals who when they see the behaviour can pinpoint, ‘This is a risk for me if this keeps happening. I can lose my access to this area,’” he said. “You ask the community to encourage good behaviour from visitors and with those neighbours who are afraid to speak out —if they see that public messaging…maybe they’ll feel comfortable calling in.”
The new motion to reach out to the public and bring the information back for discussion at the parks and recreation meeting on Sept. 1 was passed.
Plans to re-open
Sportsplex in the works
After closure of the Sportsplex was ordered March 12, DOC council and staff are looking into what it would take to open up the Sportsplex for figure skating, family skating and hockey.
The plan is currently in a draft state, as more information is needed around cost of operation and additional cleaning measures, as well as ensuring decisions are made within the guidelines of the province and other health authorities.
Individual groups, such as figure skating and minor hockey, are responsible for coming up with their own plans, with help from their parent organizations. These plans will then be part of their contract signed with the District.
Other measures, such as physical distancing and occupancy limits, will be put in place. The draft plan currently is suggesting a two-metre distance between patrons beyond the arena entrance in the hallways and occupancy limits will be set for the lobby and change rooms. The bleachers and players’ benches will also have occupancy limits, as markings will established to encourage physical distancing.
Concerns were brought up by councillors, including a loss of revenue due to more time required for clean up between ice time and the loss of weekend games, as well as potential issues with physical distancing in the lobby.
Councillor Bill Haring was concerned about the timing of the proposed opening dates.
The first opening date is set for Sept. 18, for family skating and adult hockey. Minor Hockey begins their season Sept. 19, with figure skating starting up on the 21st. Rental ice time is proposed to open Sept. 26 and the curling season begins Oct. 15. There is a note that concession will open as needed.
“Those are pretty high risk dates, essentially, it’s starting eight days after the schools open…and then flu season” said Haring. “What risk are we taking on by agressively planning for this reopening?”
Mayor Merlin Blackwell agreed in that he also still had concerns about reopening the Sportsplex, but it’s something, like many others, that will have to be played by ear, along with the rest of the province.
Council voted to go ahead with the reopening of the Sportsplex on Sept. 18 with Coun. Haring against.
Re-zoning for bees
The District of Clearwater voted in favour of amending the animal control bylaw and a zoning amendment bylaw to allow for the definition of bees and hives, as well as to allow for residents to beekeep in their own back yard.
Information was provided at the Aug. 18 public hearing and regular council meeting regarding the proposed beekeeping regulations.
Under the new changes, as many as four beehives can be kept in residential properties under 2,000 square metres, whereas there is no limit on properties larger than two hectares.
Clearwater has had the “Bee City Designation” since April 2019.
Under the proposed changes, those who wish to keep bees must register with the Ministry of Agriculture, comply with the bee regulation in the Animal Control Act, provide a water supply so the bees don’t seek external sources and take all measures reasonable to prevent and manage harm, swarming and defensive behaviour caused by the bees.